Learn how to make your home page engaging for the user.
We have reviewed thousands of websites to come up with our list of what makes a GREAT website. Sure, there are some really cool features on websites today, but when you take away the flashy graphics, pop ups and video; what makes a website function and engages the user is really what you should be after. Your website home page is a critical as it will either attract or repel your user.
Overall website design guidelines:
**Remember, your website should be designed around the user’s experience, not how cool your graphics are or how many widgets you can fit onto your home page. DO NOT build a site because it looks cool. Build a site because it allows your user to do what you want them to do.
Make sure you write for the online experience. Most users do not read when they visit websites. They SCAN. A wall of text is the greatest violation of web design and if you have had a site designed by a designer that didn’t point that out to you, you should fire them! Your goal is to draw users to the text you want them to read. Make sure you include bulleted lists, short paragraphs, user-friendly language – lose the jargon, use subheadings, highlight key words or concepts.
Users read in an F pattern. Think about where you are placing your key content on pages. Even though we read text from left to right, on web pages, clear research shows that we scan web pages and read in chunks. The most important content is at the top center of your page.
This is your site’s main landing page. It’s the place your audience lands when they type in www.YourBusinessWebAddress.com. There should be great concern taken when building this page, as it will shape the user’s experience throughout your website.
- Is your home page clear about who you are and what you offer? Truly great home pages make it immediately clear to the user how they can interact with you or transact business with you. It connects with your target audience. A visitor to your website should be able to quickly decide what they want to do next – give you their email address in the opt in box, click the call to action or navigate to another page on your site.
- Is there a call to action? Within 7 seconds, the user should be able to make a decision about what they want to do next. Based upon the type of website you are building, the user will either give you their email address in order to receive your free widget, make a purchase in your store or read more to deepen their understanding of what your business can do for them.
- Is your value proposition clear? Immediately the user should be able to tell what problem you solve. Establishing a clear and compelling value proposition is extremely important. A report by Nielsen Norman Group states that users often leave web pages within 10-20 seconds, but pages with clear value propositions can hold attention much longer.
- Your home page should be clean. A great home page has professional images that reflect your product or service. Don’t try to tell the user everything about your business on the home page. Simple, clear information is more powerful than a lot of text.
- Can the user opt in to your list? An opt in is a great tool that some users will click when they want something of value from you. Most opt in’s today include a freebie – download, more information, discount, etc.
- Use the inverted pyramid for laying out content: Most important content on top, supporting information in the middle and related information at the bottom.
- Use the 2-scroll rule. On traditional screens, users will not scroll more than two times to see the content they want to see. Don’t get so pumped up about your own site that you think you can change that behavior.
- To use scrolling images (sliders) or not? Well, if you look at the popular discussions on sliders, then NO.
Lets look at some of the statistics:
> Only 1% of the people actually click on a slide, which almost always was the first slide;
> People simply ignore your slider, because it triggers banner blindness;
> They slow down your site, negatively impacting your SEO and conversion rate(!!);
> They push your content down, which Google recently mentioned yet again is not smart;
> It dilutes your message, because suddenly there are multiple messages on your homepage.
If you are going to use a slider, then allow the user to advance the slides. Do not animate your sliders to move on their own.
- Where should the opt in be on the home page? Popular today are the pop up opt in boxes. You can set them to appear after a programmed amount of time on specific pages of your website. If it isn’t in a pop up, then conventional design suggests that you put them on the top of a right-sided bar or in a Hello gar. My suggestion if you do use the pop up box is to allow the user to click it off even if they don’t opt in. Don’t try to hold them captive by making it mandatory to fill out if they want to progress to the actual page they went to in the first place. Finally, if it isn’t consistent for your market to use opt in’s, pop ups, or other lead generation tools, then don’t.
- Should you have social media connect icons and comment boxes on your home page? Yes on social media icons and … no on the Facebook Fan box. You want people to stay on your website, not click off to your social media stream. By placing the icons on the page to connect where you spend time is sufficient enough. If you want to put the light box on other pages, then your blog sidebar would be a good spot for that as it helps to increase your social credibility.
- Finally, let’s talk about navigation. Remember, you are designing the home page for your user…do you really think they want to know EVERYTHING about your business from the top of your site? No, they do not. Simple navigation is the best tool for moving your visitor to other places in your site. Home, About, Services or Shop, Blog, Resources, Contact are the basic navigation menu titles. You can have drop down choices for other items and also hyperlink within the text of certain pages to lead people to more information if you want, but don’t overwhelm your user with too many options from the home navigation.
There you have it, 11 tips for designing a home page on your website that will attract users, not repel them. Take a look at your home page today and see what you might want to change about it. If you want our team to evaluate your site for free, we would be happy to do that. Just click here and we’ll get back to you with our suggestions.